In the latest in a long line of "things I will never understand about modern China," young women/men/everyone in Beijing is apparently now walking around with small plastic sprouts emerging directly from the top of their heads. A quick glance around Houhai on a Friday night or 798 on a Tuesday afternoon revealed a number of vendors doing a brisk trade in the accessories, with an even greater number of girls selfie-ing it up nearby.
Remember the rafts of people selling cat ears and bunny ears on Nanluogu Xiang? Yeah, this is that, repackaged for 2015.
The plastic sprouts are attached to small clips, which can be hidden in the hair. The most popular type seems to be a classic "pea shoot," although the vendors we saw in 798 had a vast array of colorful plants and flowers available.
According to a Sohu article, rather than a political comment on Beijing's stance towards pollution, the trend originates from an unspecified cosplay convention, after which time they became the latest hot way to maimeng (卖萌), or act cute. The article goes on to say that the sprouts don't necessarily have a particular meaning, although grass is supposed to denote intelligence while a four-leaf clover, you guessed it, signifies luck.
A quick Taobao search for “小草发卡" turned up a number of shops selling the hair sprouts for less than RMB 1 per piece. The proprietors that the author of the Sohu article spoke to confirmed that most of the people buying up the hair sprouts are taking them to sell at major tourist areas.
Do we understand this "growing" trend? No. Will it soon take over your WeChat moments? Almost certainly.
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